Peter Kurpita performs at the First Baptist Church

Peter Kurpita performs at the First Baptist Church

Pianist comes home

Peter Kurpita plays at First Baptist Church on Sunday (May 24).

When pianist Peter Kurpita elected to travel to Europe more than a decade ago, it was a decision that would change his life forever.

“I decided to take a year off and I went to Austria,” Kurpita said.

As strange as it may sound, Austria was not the music graduate’s first choice.

“Actually I wanted to go to Paris first because they had a seat sale for Paris, Berlin or Vienna,” he said. “I had a little French in high school and I didn’t have any German.”

Unfortunately for Kurpita, when  he went to book a flight to Paris he discovered that all the seats were sold out.

“I had to chose between Berlin and Vienna and I took Vienna,” he said.

That decision would pay dividends. Shortly after arriving in Austria, Kurpita landed a job as a piano instructor at Anton Bruckner Private University and he also fell in love.

“I tried out for the job and I got it,” he said. “I also met my wife there. It was a good choice.”

On Sunday (May 24) Kurpita, who now lives in Japan with his wife, will be holding a piano recital at the First Baptist Church.

Kurpita’s performance in Nanaimo is his first in more than five years.

“It’s a classical program and I played it about three months ago,” Kurpita said. “I’ve got a lot of people who have supported me here in the past.”Kurpita’s recital will see him perform pieces by Beethoven, Mozart and Liszet.

“My goal is to sing on the piano,” Kurpita said. “I don’t want it to be with a very strict pulse, I want there to be some sort of freedom.”

Kurpita was born in Scarborough, Ont., but grew up in Nanaimo.

He began playing the piano at the age of 12, which is considered late.

“You normally start off when you’re quite young, like four or five,” Kurpita said. “You develop your ear much more efficiently than if you start off later.”

Despite getting a late start on the piano, Kurpita has been able to carve out a career as a music instructor and pianist.

Kurpita says that although he had a limited knowledge of German, he was able to teach music in Vienna because music is a language of its own.

“It’s never really a challenge with music,” he said.“I got a job first time I was there and I didn’t know German,” he said. “I basically learned on the job.”

After residing in Austria for 10 years, Kurpita moved to Nagasaki, Japan, with his wife nearly seven years ago in an effort to be closer to her parents.

Moving to Japan was an easy decision for Kurpita.

“As far as I am concerned you can’t really have a relationship when one person is on the other side of the world,” he said.

Kurpita performs at the First Baptist Church, 1650 Waddington Rd., on Sunday (May 24) at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Children under 12 are free.

For more information, please visit

arts@nanaimobulletin.comFollow @npescod on Twitter

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